Citizen Staff Writer
For nearly 25 years, Henry Ortega taught many Tucson kids the game of baseball. It seems only fitting that former players and parents will hold a pickup game Tuesday at Freedom Park to honor the Little League coach who died last month of cancer.
Mr. Ortega, 51, coached 9- to 12-year-olds in the Major division – first for Sunnyside Little League, then Old Pueblo and finally Freedom. He also usually helped manage each league’s All-Star teams.
In his final year of coaching, his grandson was able to play for him.
“Henry was only sick the last six months, and came out to coach whenever he was up to it,” said Freedom president Cindy Snow. “He would even come if all he could do was sit and watch.”
That type of dedication endeared him to many – and Snow’s league will have a pickup game at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Field No. 2 at Freedom Park, on East 29th Street (west of South Craycroft Road).
The league will sell Diamondbacks T-shirts and donate the proceeds to Ortega’s family. The snack bar will be open.
Mr. Ortega died Sept. 15. He is survived by his wife, Vickie; daughter, Celina Ortega and step-daughter, Tiffany Lawson; sisters Maria (Ernesto) Banuelos, Erminia (Guillermo) Jayme, Erlinda (Oscar) Rodriguez and Stella Ortega; brothers Greg (Artemisa), John (Frances), Joe (Nadine) and Ruben (Corie); and three grandchildren.